Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meat Chickens 2017

This is an interesting year to report on our meat birds as so many variable are in play.  This year I wanted to order all cockerels again, but the hatchery was sold out.  Not a problem, I just went with a straight run of 20 and 5 replacement hens, expecting there to be 6 hens and 21 meat birds.  When I got to Sharon to pick them up there were only 20 meat birds in the box and one of them was dead.  There were 6 hens, however and all seemed fine.  In the end I didn't lose anymore meat birds, thankfully, but of the 19 I got 13 were female.  Considering they always come out basically 50/50 this was a rather unpleasant surprise.  I lost one replacement hen the day they moved out side because she was killed by the neighbors dog.

This year I also switched to organic freed from DeLongs.  I used one bag of organic starter and then went to an organic grower, but after finding out it was like 16% protein I returned the unopened ones and went to a 21% starter/grower.  So total we used 1 bag of starter, one of grower, and 6 of the 21% protein one.  A total of 8 bags of food for 25 birds through week 4 and 24 birds for 9 weeks.  The total for feed was right around $241.86.

We butchered a total of 19 birds (and our teeny, tiny rooster, Chocolate, but his numbers aren't in the totals.)  We had 13 females and 6 males and they finished out with a total of 124 pounds!  Our largest birds were 7.5 pounds and are smallest were 5.5 pounds with a 6.5 pound average.  So really, they did well on their weights, partially because we waited until 9 weeks to butcher.  We also did collect 2 pounds, 11 oz of liver and hearts and 2 pounds of gizzards.

So the breakdown of our organic, pastured chickens was $1.95/pound!  I was seriously concerned we'd be much, much higher, so I was very happy with that.  If you count in the organ meats it comes down to $1.87/pound.  And these numbers include the grain for the replacement hens, which added no value in meat as of now.  They are now eating the same no soy, organic ration as our laying hens, but for 9 weeks their feed costs are buried in the meat birds numbers.   All in all a good year, even with the challenges.